Artists and Writers Protest Against the War in Vietnam
Artists and Writers Protest, Inc. was an outgrowth of the Greenwich Village Peace Center and the War Resisters’ League. Started by a group of poets who recruited visual and performing artists, Artists and Writers Protest made a rousing debut on Sunday, January 29, 1967 with a full-page ad in the New York Times urging citizens to “End Your Silence.” It was signed by 600 national cultural leaders who each donated $10 to buy the ad.
As New Yorkers woke up to their morning coffee that day, Artists and Writers Protest kicked off Angry Art Week with multitudes of actors, dancers, and musicians performing anti-war themed work on flat-bed trucks that circulated throughout the city. Angry Art Week concluded with stationary and ambulatory performances and exhibits, including a vast controversial show, “College of Indignation” at New York University. May Stephens, an artist member of Artists and Writers Protest wrote, “Everybody we knew wanted to be in on it. It became very exciting.”
The portfolio Artists and Writers Protest Against the War in Viet Nam, organized by artist Jack Sonenberg later in 1967, was a fundraiser for Artists and Writers Protest, Inc. The poets and artists contributed their work, and publishers and printers contributed time and materials. While many of the artists in the Artist and Writers Protest portfolio produced work in their signature styles, some ventured away from their known medium. It debuted in an exhibition at Associated American Artist Gallery in New York.
Many of the artists who participated in this enterprise served in World War II and had seen and knew the horrors of war. In an instance of propaganda being used for the benefit of individuals rather than to promote war or to secure an economic plan, their art and their words reflect a desire for peace.